I was asked that question by someone who is, quite justifiably, angry and disgusted by many of the things that Shimon Peres did in his life.
I thought about the question, struggled with it for barely a second, and said the first thing that came to mind, “because he’s a Jew, because he’s a human being.”
That’s it. Really. He is someone’s father, someone’s grandfather, even someone’s great grandfather. I have never agreed with his politics. I thought he was a terrible politician, a decent president except when he broke the rules and flaunted his politics.
I’ll never think he is/was a great man. I’m glad he had such a strong record of losing elections. I think he did a lot of damage to Israel by apologizing for things long before blame could be determined (and never apologizing when the blame he readily accepted on our behalf was proven not to be ours at all).
I think he lived his life overshadowed by the memory of the Holocaust and the need of many Jews from Europe, to bow before the non-Jew, to appease the calm rather than fight. He was never much of a fighter.
But it doesn’t matter now because ultimately, God will decide. His future is in God’s hands and it isn’t my place to wish upon him some everlasting punishment. I will pray for his recovery; I will pray that God forgives him.
I believe in his way, he loves this land and spent a lifetime trying to serve it as best he could. He is part of a generation mostly lost to us. A generation that was taught to relate to the world and other peoples in a way that helped perpetuate our weakness.
Will I mourn for Shimon Peres? Honestly, probably not much. He helped bring us Oslo, which is responsible for so much of the problems we have today inside our country and in our relationship with the world. That it was doomed to fail, makes it all the more sad and unnecessary.
Shimon Peres is a gentleman, a man of culture. In his own way, I have heard he is a kind man. He was never much of a leader, not for a country like Israel, which is surrounded by our enemies, constantly at war, always on defense. He came from Europe. He was a product of Europe and the Western world, transplanted into the Middle East.
I will wish him well. I will wish him peace in the world to come. He deprived so many of peace in this world by running, always running down the wrong roads. So many failures on his part because he was never strong enough to insist that the right message be delivered. The strong message that we are here to stay and we will remain here by right and even by might, when needed.
I’ve heard Shimon Peres speak many times over the years. He is witty and smart. He can be charming. I can only hope that whatever tasks God offers to him in the world to come, are more suited to the man he wished he was, rather than the man we needed him to be.
Ultimately, in these sad hours, what it comes down to is no longer the political life he led, but the family he leaves behind. They deserve our prayers, our hopes that he will stay with them longer. At the end of the say, as his wife Sonia wanted him to remember, it really is about family. May God offer them comfort in these hours.Paula Stern